American Apparel, always a sexual deviant

American Apparel seems mainly to be recognized for it’s best and worst qualities, and not a whole lot in between. It is sweatshop free and provides plenty of employment opportunities with fair pay. Aside from their decent motives and sleek style, vast amounts of people are strictly opposed to their provocative and controversial advertisements.

This image is particularly striking because of the sexual connotation of the model’s position in conjunction with the ad’s slogan, “Now Open”. One could view this picture as clever and an interesting use of the play on words—it most definitely attracts your attention from the get go.

What you actually see (the signified) is quite different from the message received (the signifier). A girl whose legs are spread wide open in an attempt to get your attention is striking, but many would find it offensive and degrading to women. I, a woman, am not an overly avid feminist. Of course, I believe that we deserve our equal rights and we’re not objects to be sexualised (etc. etc.), however in a creative attempt to grab your attention and force you to take note of what the advertisement is actually trying to say, American Apparel was quite successful.

So, while the “leg spread” takes up majority of the image and does more talking than the words themselves, nothing too physically confronting is on display. It is rather the connotations and the message implied with the title that might label this ad as “controversial”.

Since American Apparel has been blamed for posting too sexually confronting advertisements for a while now, the effect of this image isn’t as strong. If a company that constantly produces slogans and ads within society’s comfort zones were to break out and shock us with something particularly sexual, it could have a whole new meaning and effect.

5 thoughts on “American Apparel, always a sexual deviant

  1. If they are trying to shock us then they have certainly got the right idea. It amazes me how sexualised their advertisements are they it is allowed. When I see an advertisement such as this it doesn’t strike me as a fashion advertorial, if anything a porno. The clothing used comes across skanky and trashy looking. I don’t understand the response they are seeking to get from this nor the audience they are targeting, but awareness is definitely there, I always remember the brand through the shock factor the ads indent in my mind. The connotations and semiotic value I perceive are not positive it kind of deters me from the brand.

  2. by looking at this advertisment as a womam i get this feeling of seclusion, im not too sure what this shop is however you gain the sense that the target market are males. if the role was reversed and a male model was posing the exact way , would that make people want to go to the shop ? if you ask me american apparel need to find new advertising employees this add is horible.

  3. Hi Annika!

    Great blog post!
    I liked how you examined the image and highlighted it’s Connotations, I agree with everything you said! It is certainly an image that can be taken as provocative and can be read as sexual in terms of the picture and the clever word choice of the title. You point out that America Apparel seem to produce quite a bit of controversial advertising, I think you are right in saying that woman could find this offensive and degrading but I believe woman who are used to seeing this magazine would become desensitized by the ad’s over time and come to associate these kinds of ad’s with this magazine and think nothing more of it, unless they are extreme feminist’s like you’ve mentioned above.

    It was a great post! Well done!

  4. I think that American Apparel has definitely succeeded in “shocking” the world with their advertisements! But I definitely agree with what you said about there being no “in between”- They really aren’t recognised for their good qualities as everyone is too busy focussing on the controversy surrounding their ads. I think that this is maybe the opposite affect to what AA was hoping- that their ads would bring attention to other elements of their company. Great post x

  5. Their ads actually make me question the quality of their products because I personally feel like if your products are of great quality and are doing well in the market, there is simply no need for advertorial campaigns of such, don’t you think? It just deters my attention to something else, rather than their products which are clothing in which ironically, is the least thing I see in the picture. Enjoyed reading your post 🙂

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